Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Potpourri Update

Well, it is nearing the midnight hour for this year. The new year promises to bring it's share of challenges, but also excitement at the same time. I am working hard on BellaOnline as I am in training as the new Mystery Books Editor. Come on over and visit to read interesting articles and chat with other mystery lovers on the Mystery Books forum.

Looking forward to a great 2009 in the writing biz.

What are your plans for the new year? What excites you most about your life?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good News in the Midst of the Auto Bailout Collapse

When I picked up the Lansing (MI) State Journal this morning, I expected to see headlines about the Big Three bailout collapse spread all over the front page. To my pleasant surprise, above the fold on the front page of every section was positive and encouraging news for the mid-Michigan area.

As most everyone knows, Michigan has struggled for the last few years with a high unemployment rate, a fallen (Detroit) mayor, home foreclosures among the highest in the nation, and businesses failing at a rapid rate.

Today, the Lansing area came up a winner in several categories:

The front page headline read: $550M WINNER. MSU Lands Nuclear Research Facility. The U.S. Department of Energy announced it had awarded Michigan State University a $550 million nuclear physics research project called the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Hope rises!

Local & State section: 3 area schools take silver. East Lansing, Okemos, and Williamston rank in the top 2.9% of nation's high schools, designated by U.S. News and World Report.

The coolest thing about that news is that I graduated from Williamston High School - that is my hometown school. How cool is that?

Sports news: Could have been just a tad better, but MSU's Javon Ringer placed second in the race to become the nation's best running back Thursday night. After a late-season surge, Shonn Greene from Iowa ended up number one.

Still, great news for MSU sports and for 2nd season head football coach, Mark Dantonio. The story just below Javon's is of the January 1st Capitol One Bowl in Orlando against Georgia. It was cool to see a picture of Dantonio and Georgia coach Mark Richt shaking hands during Thursday's press conference promoting the bowl game.

So, in the midst of extremely disappointing news, good news rose to the top for the Lansing area.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

For Your Shopping Pleasure...

During my move from Tucson to Michigan a couple of years ago, I stopped by Fairview Heights, IL to visit my brother. Seeking a children's store, I came across this sign.

Toys for who?

I'm not sure that is the message Toys-R-Us intended to send their customers. Just sayin'...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Healthy Living Coming Soon to Elder Care Cafe

Tomorrow morning at the Elder Care Cafe, a post will announce the upcoming 2009 healthy living initiative. The initiative will include regular posts highlighting living a healthy lifestyle - body, soul, and spirit. A newsletter sent directly to your email box is in the development stage and will kick-off in 2009. Yet to be determined is the frequency of the newsletter - never daily, but may arrive weekly or monthly.

I'm excited about the upgrade Elder Care Cafe has received lately. It was a much needed refreshing and repairing of the site, and now it is ready to enter the new year in style.

If you have any questions or topic suggestions, feel free to leave a comment on the site.

Elder Care Cafe is geared towards the elderly and those who care for them, but any baby boomer or senior citizen will find interesting articles.

We at the Elder Care Cafe, both on the 'net and here on blogger, are looking forward to a fun, healthy, and prosperous new year.

How about you? What are your plans for the new year? Do your plans include living healthy?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Piggy Banks and Savings Books

When I was growing up in the mid-fifties, Mom saved several kinds of stamps that we pasted into a book. When the books were filled and she had enough to redeem the item she was saving for, off we went to the big city. Whether she was saving green stamps, gold stamps, or any other stamps of the times, the trip to store were always exciting.

We also received money for birthdays and Christmas. Sometimes only a dollar or two, other times as much as five, ten or even twenty dollars. We always trekked to the bank with our cash and placed it in our savings account. We each had our own savings book, and kept accurate account of the deposit and total. Long after the account was closed, likely used for college, the bank book remained as a reminder of those days.

Now that we are in a recession, with some pundits predicting a depression, those memories of saving money and stamps are reminders that saving money is a smart, practical practice. Even bringing back the piggy bank - yes, we each had one of those too - or the change jar my dad still keeps on his dresser, are ways to have spare cash around the house when you have a need.

As you tuck away a few dollars here and there, it is surprising how often you accumulate more than you expect.

Another savings trick my mother used was to place any extra money in a separate savings account. In fact, she kept a "secret" savings account from my dad, who was more likely to spend than would Mom. When she saved enough to purchase what she wanted, she took pleasure in her trip to the appropriate store. One of her greatest thrills was the china cabinet that she purchased from loose change and extra money she made from baking and decorating cakes.

For some reason the items people purchase after they have scrimped and saved, seem to have a greater value than those they can instantly buy with a credit card. Mom did have her season of using credit cards, but her most cherished memories came from the save-up-ahead-of-time approach.

Do you have a favorite treasure in your house that you purchased by saving ahead of time? What are you saving for now?

Photo by A Sattler at Creative Commons at Flickr

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dumb Little Man No Dummy - What We Can Learn From the Great Depression

Do you know how I know Dumb Little Man is no dummy? The two main reasons why I believe Jay White is no dummy:

1. His website is full of practical information regarding tips that will "save you money, increase your productivity, or simply keep you sane" according to his website blurb.

2. He utilizes great guest writers.

Not only did I want to send a shout-out to Jay and Dumb Little Man, but I also wanted to comment on a guest article by Mike Koehler, a multimedia journalist in Oklahoma City. Mike wrote an article titled Seven Good Lessons From the Great Depression that I think is important for people to read.

During these difficult economic times, it is helpful to delve into the wisdom of those who have gone before. And who better to pull from than our parents and grandparents who experienced the Great Depression. I have often heard stories of what my dad and his parents and grandparents endured during that time. A couple of things I personally learned were:

1. Take each day as it comes. I have had struggles in my life and learned that what the Bible says about each day is sufficient unto itself is true. Concentrate on each day and what you can do to see it through. When you keep your main focus on each day, you are better able to work out your problems and struggles. Looking too far ahead could be too much of a challenge when times are difficult.

That does not mean you shouldn't plan ahead, but don't dwell on the negative by believing that whatever you are going through will never end. Keep up your spirits by focusing on a step at a time during the day you are in. Tomorrow will bring its own set of challenges, and blessings.

2. Know that this too shall pass. No matter what is going on in your life, it will pass. The Great Depression did come to an end. The recession we are currently experiencing will someday end. Some say in one year, others predict it will take two years, but the reality is - America will pull itself out of this recent downturn and will rise again. How do I know? Take a look back at history!

3. Going back to the basics may not be fun, but it is necessary in order to recover financially, physically, spiritually, or in any other area of one's life.

For years we have heard talk of inflated prices, the inflated housing market, inflated this and inflated that. Well, what was rising so high, by the laws of the universe, had to come down. That's just the way it is. As the economy hits bottom, it will begin to rise again. It never hurts to go back to the basics of good financial management, stop excessive spending and high-end living, and start living a more practical lifestyle. How many young families with their 2.5, or less, children really needed the huge mega-square-footage houses they thought they had to have?

Almost 80 years ago, the Great Depression hit. It was a horrible time for most people, and hopefully we will never sink to that level of living again. But, during this recession there are a number of steps we can take in our personal lives to help the economy get back on track.

Studying the past mistakes of others is a good step in the right direction. Utilizing the knowledge and practical tips from bloggers and writers such as Jay White and Mike Koehler, and applying those ideas to our lives, will enhance our daily walk and help us through these distressing times.

What do you think? Do you have a blog or author that has provided you with tips or inspiration? You are welcome to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section. We would love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Yellow Designated the Bright Spot of 2009

For color lovers everywhere, next year will shine brighter with the expected choice of yellow as the leading color for 2009. Pantone provides color standards to design industries, and announced "mimosa" the color of choice.

Mimosa is best represented by the flowers found on the Mimosa tree, or the color of the drink. The cheerful and sunny yellow is a welcome bright light in these days of negative and depressing news reports. Yellow is a warm and nurturing color that provides an optimistic tone for 2009.

Just think of the possibilities for this bright color, such as kitchen walls, appliances, counters and curtains; quilts, sheets, and drapes for the bedroom or spare room; or spring and summer clothing. Buy early and impress your friends with your sense of style.

What do you think? How do you feel about the color mimosa for 2009? Do you think it is the right color for the new year?

Top 10 Most Influential Women of 2008 According to Yahoo! Search Results

Do you know who is the most searched for female of 2008? Could it be anyone else?

Yahoo! search results for the top 10 most influential women of 2008 show some old favorites and a couple of new names. As most people surmised, Angelina Jolie topped the list as she has most of the year. Here is the list in order of the search results:

1. Angelina Jolie
2. Sarah Palin
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. Hillary Clinton
5. Gina Carano
6. Tina Fey
7. Michelle Obama
8. Katie Couric
9. Barbara Walters
10. Dara Torres

The article noted two of the women came very close to the two top jobs in America, and others broke barriers in their own disciplines. All of the women are making a mark in the world today.

Click here to read the rest of the article, especially for comments on each of the women's accomplishments.

What to do think of this list? Who would you leave off, or add on? Why?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama Getting High Marks for Transition Decisions

Off to a galloping start, Barack Obama is getting high marks for his transition pace and leadership qualities. Considering all the news reports, announcements, and decisions during the past couple of weeks, it seems as if he is already running the country. His visibility and activity level appears much greater than any president-elect in recent memory.

He is also receiving high praise for his cabinet choices according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll. In general, most people are feeling confident with Obama as a leader and as someone who can lead us into the future. He has made wise, and sometimes surprising, cabinet choices, has taken an active interest and early role in current world affairs, and has garnered respect from both sides of the political line. Even Republicans have vocalized their support of his cabinet choices.

Although he is going into the presidency with major world and national problems, his let's-get-it-done attitude appears to bolster support from the grassroot Americans who are looking for a knight in shining armor to get this country back on it's feet. Although he has a lot on his shoulders, let's hope he can continue to lead the way into the future.

What do you think? Is he the man to lead this country back to greatness, or is he going to burn out before his time?

Recession? What Recession?

So-called experts have denied for some time what most of us already knew - we are in a recession. Yesterday it was announced that not only are we in a recession, but we have been for a year. Do the so-called experts really think Americans are that dense? The experts have told Americans for months that we were just experiencing an economic slow-down, only to now announce the recession is a year-old.

An interesting side-note from trend watchers is that as the economy heads downwards, there are a few areas that are on the rise. Apparently, one of the main indicators of a failing economy is the rise in sales of that old much-maligned favorite, SPAM. According to the New York Times, workers at Hormel Foods Corporation are racking up overtime hours as they work seven days a week to keep up with the demand.

Sales of other inexpensive foods that are on the rise include macaroni and cheese, Jello-O, Kool-Aid, pancake mixes and instant potatoes. So are vitamins and beer. What about the old college student favorite Ramon noodles?

Christmas dinner is going to take on a whole different look this year for many people.

Other upward trends include increase in military recruitment, shared living spaces, garage sale season expansion as people scramble for money, and people signing up for college classes to gain knowledge for possible career change or advancement. Another trend is that cigarette sales are up, despite the high cost of cigarettes these days. Sources say that the increase in cigarette sales is probably due to stress-related issues.

How has the recession affected your family? What are you doing to cut costs?

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

The 1st of December, World AIDS Day, is the day when individuals and organizations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.

This year is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day. The theme this year is leadership, reminding leaders of their promise to do what they can to help eradicate AIDS. Many leaders over the years have made promises they have not kept.

Now is the time to remind world leaders that AIDS is a world wide problem, and needs world wide attention to find a cure; to stop the invasive disease that has taken so many from us over the years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "around the world, 33 million people are living with HIV with nearly 7,500 new infections occurring each day. An estimated 3 million people are now receiving antiretroviral treatment in low and middle-income countries.

In the United States, CDC estimates that about 1.1 million people are living with HIV. These numbers will most likely increase over time...As expected, as the number of people living with HIV grows, so does the opportunity for those with HIV to pass on the virus to others.

CDC currently estimates that approximately one in five persons living with HIV in the United States is unaware of his or her infection and may be unknowingly transmitting the virus to others. Since anyone can be at risk for HIV, CDC recommends that adults and adolescents between the ages of 13 and 64 years of age be routinely screened for HIV infection in healthcare settings. Pregnant women in the U.S. should be screened for HIV infection as part of their routine prenatal testing.

Individuals can:

Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site center near you, visit hivtest.org or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).

Participate in the Facing AIDS campaign. Take a picture of yourself wearing a red ribbon and add the photo to the "World AIDS Day 08" Flickr group*, your social network profiles, Twitter, blog, and/or Web site before December 1. Leave it up for at least a week.

Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations.

Organizations are encouraged to:

Promote World AIDS Day in your organization. Useful materials are available at hivtest.org

Encourage employees to get involved in World AIDS Day.

Educate staff about HIV/AIDS.

Develop HIV/AIDS policies for the workplace."

AIDS is a worldwide problem that touches many millions of lives. Please encourage the leadership in your area of the world to keep promoting AIDS research, prevention, and testing.